SB 608 aims to restore competition
When State Question 792 was up for voting in 2016, most voters only saw the effects that impacted them, namely the ability to purchase wine and stronger beer at grocery and convenience stores.
As we now know, the question passed and went into effect in October 2018, allowing consumers more freedom and convenience for buying alcohol.
That will still be the case, but a senate bill could be voted on soon that would restore competition in the distribution and sale of alcohol to wholesalers and retailers.
Previous law stated alcohol suppliers must sell to any wholesaler. State Question 792 says suppliers may sell to any wholesaler they choose. It meant wineries and distilleries no longer had to do business with every distributor in the state. On top of that, the state’s two largest distributors — Jarboe and Central — were acquired by two of the nation’s largest distribution companies, Republic National and Southern Glazer.
What ensued was what many have called a monopoly. It hamstrung businesses like liquor stores, severely limiting their options on what and from whom they could buy. It also killed much of the business of other distributors. In early April, Bryan Hendershot, owner of Boardwalk Distributors, the state’s third-largest wholesaler, told the Tulsa World he estimated “$100 million lost in sales” because of the change.
Carried by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Chris Kannady, Senate Bill 608 would require the sellers of the top 25 brands in the state to sell their products to any wholesaler in Oklahoma who orders it, with no price discrimination.